Months after being cold-stunned, 13 endangered sea turtles were released back into the Gulf of Mexico in Lousiana.
According to a release from Audubon Nature Institute, 28 endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were rescued back in November of 2020. All of the turtles had been cold-stunned during extreme weather conditions in the area and presumable would’ve died without human intervention.
Because turtles are cold-blooded, they rely on their environment to warm them up or cool them down. When temperatures plummet, as was seen in November, the turtles can become cold-stunned and go into a hypothermic-like state.
The Audubon Nature Institute’s Coastal Wildlife Network (CWN) team carefully monitored the turtles as they went through rehabilitation. After around four months, about half of the turtles started showing signs of being ready to be released back into the wild.
The CWN team determined that 13 of the 28 turtles were ready to be released. Staff members slowly loaded the turtles up and transported them to the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. There, the staff double-checked that the water was at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit before each turtle was walked into the water and released back to freedom.
Gabriella Harlamert, the rescue and rehab coordinator for the organization, said in the release, “This is the day we have all been waiting for. All the days and nights over the last four months caring for these turtles have all been for this. Getting to return them to the wild is why we do what we do, and it’s the best feeling ever.”
Of course, after four months of being in care, each turtle was lovingly named. The turtles released were named Tucks, Rex, Proteus, Athena, Carrollton, Zulu, Thoth, Chaos, Endymion, Pandora, Muff-alotta, Stomper, and Themis.
The remaining 15 sea turtles will remain at the Audubon Aquatic Center until they are deemed healthy enough by staff to be released into the wild. The plan is for every turtle to be returned to the wild and they’re making great progress already!
Watch the release below:
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